1.16.2008

Confession

I steer clear of old white men. They make me uncomfortable. I read a lot and know my share of civil rights history. My mother is from Mississippi. My great-great uncle (a white man) owned his nephew (my half-white great-grandfather). I have a relative who was committed to an asylum for decades because he was accused of looking at a white woman. To escape death he shot his foot and jumped in a pond. My father never went to a segregated school. My mother, though born after Brown v. Board, didn't go to one until high school. I still hear "off-color" remarks that let me know people think of me as different and "not one of them" no matter how cool we may seem or how well we supposedly get along.

So when I see an old white man, I think of the people who were responsible for these things. Kind of like some people see a young black man with a white t-shirt and baggy pants and instantly clutch their purses and walk a little faster. That's how old white men make me feel. Like I need to lock my door, clutch my purse, and drive a little faster. (It's Oprah's fault I thought of this. She was talking to a 92-year-old white man on her show yesterday and holding his hand. I was amazed. She's from the sip, too. (Mississippi) I guess you can't get far in life by being fearful. But a dose of wariness doesn't hurt.)

*New Project Runway tonight.

21 comments:

nikki said...

i get like that around old southern white dudes. specifically, the ones wearing the overalls with the confederate pin on their shirts. i try to give folk the benefit of a doubt, but i'd rather be careful because if one of them calls me 'nigger' i'm gonna have to kill 'em.

1969 said...

Project Runway....shall I schedule our conference call for Thursday?

Sandy C. said...

I felt the same way when we drove through the south. We stopped in one town (very popular, but we were the only non-whites), and some locals actually threw things at us as we walked by. Honest. And this was in the late 80's early 90's.

Sparkling Red said...

My ex-husband called himself "brown" (white mom, black dad, from Indiannapolis). He was raised by his mom in mainly white neighbourhoods. I think it made him very confused about his identity.

Always.Funky.Fresh said...

As strange as your post is, I completely understand. I'm the same way for me - only around white women that are younger than me. I feel like someone is watching and is gonna drag me out of my bed at night and you know...because she lied. Sorry mang.

Sha Boogie said...

I'm more afraid of drunken white men than I am of drunken black men. White people get to brawlick with liquor in their system, they got to wild out and do something 'memorable' like tell me how they've always wanted to be with a black woman..ewww.

Vdizzle said...

I do the same with every age of white males. My parents never went to a integrated school and then they both went to HBCUs.

There was a lot of paranoid and racist rhetoric in my house my entire life. I think it was all for the best though.

Liz said...

My goodness, that story about your relative shooting himself in the foot is really something. These are the things most white folks don't understand are in our family histories, are the stories we were told while growing up. And we're just supposed to "get over it". Yeah, whatever.

PR tonight...who will go home? I'm loving the modeling show with Tyson too.

The Ink said...

ion fool with those folk neither, and im a MAN...why sistas dont just run at the sight of a white dude of any age is a testament to their powers of forgiveness.

Epsilonicus said...

While I can understand where you are coming from, I wish this was not so. I think it is this kind of behavior from both Blacks and Whites thats still holds us back. Do I believe it will ever be totally gone? No. But if we all, Black and White, do our part things could get better. When we do not reach out, we allow those memories and past events to take hold and control us.

Tasha said...

I understand where you're coming from. I kind of get that way with old white women. I feel like no matter how 'proper' I speak, and no matter how gentle and saccharine sweet I am to them, they will still see me as an unteachable negroid specimen. I say that even after going to predominately white schools for most of my educational career where I learned to see beyond race in most aspects of my life.

jameil1922 said...

nikki... i actually had a friend in h.s. who had a confederate flag on his key chain. i never looked at him the same again. he was like "it doesn't mean what you think it means." but you KNOW what i think it means and you still have it.

1969... yes!

sandy... stop. STOP!! that is ridiculous.

red... Sigh. I can imagine that might do it.

funky... I completely understand. When I hear black men say they stay away from white women I always instantly understand why.

sha... right!?! and it's always like yeah whatever. get away from me. i'm not your experiment. and it makes you want to make sure everyone knows where you are so you don't get snatched and reworked WV style.

v... my dad was a balance to my mom actually. i definitely apply a grain of salt logic to my interactions.

liz... exactly. i don't think they understand. do they not tell, "in the good ole days when they were slaves" stories? IDK. I really want Ricky to go home but I don't think its gonna happen. :(

ink... i think we're trying so hard to get ahead that we push beyond those feelings of wariness. that's gotta be it.

epsi... wishing it that way doesn't make it come true. it would be lovely (in some ways) to live in a world free of racial and sexual constraints but that utopic society does not exist. before we are actualized, as children we are constantly fed these messages from black and white people that form who we become. that is part of my history. while its not pretty, i think it serves a purpose. it lets me know you WILL have to work harder. black women always have to deal with that "angry black bitch" idea in the workplace. that annoys me. if i let you know what i'm thinking i'm too "assertive." and have to temper everything i say because i'm too much. right. that's annoying. but something i will have to carry with me the rest of my life.

i grew up in the burbs surrounded by white people. college was the first time i was ever surrounded by black people daily so don't think i don't know how to get along with white people. that's all i work with now. but when little comments come out in any arena, i know they still always notice that i'm black and not necessarily in the way that's most fruitful. i don't deny my blackness ever but when you make slick comments and look to me to laugh, i really want to punch you in the face. like everything else in life, its a balance. we are not where we should be when it comes to race relations because everyone wants to deny the others' experiences. i.e. but you shouldn't let that effect you. but in some way, it does impact me. c'est la vie.

jameil1922 said...

t... exactly. the old white men scare me more. i guess b/c i had one of each when it comes to old white women. a super cool one who loved me and made me her teacher's pet and one who tried to cut my creativity off at the knees and fit me in her little box.

Rashan Jamal said...

I tend to try to intimidate old white men. It doesn't work as well as it used to in hardbottom shoes and slacks as it did in timbs and baggy jeans.

Those off color remarks always have a way of letting you know that you were right to be wary of them.

C said...

My mom went to a segregated high school. And my brother's father's birth certificate had him listed as "colored". We're not that far away from our past, but yet - still far enough I think that we shouldn't be scared.

Mr. said...

Just to be an asshole, I cross the street immediately when I see a white woman. Just to make them feel uncomfortable. Like...wtf did he do that.

I don't just cross the street. I do it in the most fearful and demonstrative manner.

They run from me, I run from them.

Mademoiselle M said...

That's an interesting confession. I definitely haven't thought of it before reading this. I don't think I'm afraid of white men (particularly the old ones) so much as that I feel the need to overperform just to show them that I am capable and intelligent. In my internships where I had to interact with any of the white men at the firm, I always had it in the back of my mind that they don't think I belong there. I'll never really know if that's all my imagination or if it's the truth, I guess.

@Mr... that is some kinda hilarious stuff! If I was a black man I would go outside right now and try that to see the reaction I get. LOL

jameil1922 said...

rj... and i look @ them like I KNEW I read you right. lmao @ you intimidating them. so funny.

c... not scared. wary. and partly because i'm from the south. i went to school with these people's grandchildren and i know what they've passed down. we're not that far.

mr... LMAO!! love that!!

mm... i know right?

Stacie von Kutieboots said...

you also don't like their ears. too big for your taste.

i think i'm more wary of the women our age. being across the tracks from FSU added fuel to my dislike of the WGs. whatever they say, goes.

Rosewood comes to mind when I think of WGs...

jameil1922 said...

what do their ears have to do with the price of tea in china? their granddaughters when stepping out of line? gnat in my ear. not stuttin them at all. swat and move on.

yet another black guy said...

i try to tell my nephew this same thing. not everyone will show their true colors, but you can see the hue if you look deep enough.